A robot using what looks suspiciously like Genetic Algorithms to learn how to make facial expressions. Might not be of course – but Genetic Algorithms are so simple and produce good results blindingly quickly… that’s how I would do it.
I think this is the future of Robotics – creating machines that start out not knowing what they look like, then learning to use their own hardware… and then a bio-link being created so a machine can learn how to control a living organism. There have already been small stumbling steps in this direction that I’ve gone on about elsewhere – this Einstein Robot is a movement in that direction.
One of the advantages of this approach is that you can de-couple software and hardware. The software that’s used to control a combine-harvestor can be the same as that which controls a daddy-longlegs. You don’t need to reprogram specifically for each new device – which means machine-evolution can be faster.
What looks like another movement in this direction is the recent creation of the long-predicted “Memristor” – a device that takes charge and creates magnetic flux, which I must confess I barely understand – but it looks like a missing link, and a mechanism widely used in nature to allow smart-reactions from organisms that don’t actually have brains… and, according to the article, what modern tech basically does with hundreds of chips, is to simulate the workings of a single memristor.